Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pre-Hearing Rally

Pre-Hearing Orientation and Rally 
For HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act.
March 3, 2009, 1pm
East entrance of the Capitol 
Along S. 2nd St. (by the corner of S. 2nd St. and E. Monroe St.).

Following the rally, we will head inside and lobby our own state representatives (senator is optional), and "be seen on the scene". Be sure to look up who your state rep is at home. We will NOT have a way to look that up for you in Springfield. Visit and click on the By Address tab.

After you find and talk with your state representative, you might wander around, or sit up in the House or Senate gallery if they are in session (or even just go in to see the House and Senate floosr, which are both gorgeous). You also might take a free architectural tour of the capitol; check at the information booth for details

Please bring a letter for Governor Quinn! State that a lack of licensed midwives has been a problem for decades in our state, and all efforts to license midwives have been held up in the Illinois House by organized medicine (or you can name the Illinois State Medial Society, although they have their sub-specialty auxiliary groups working on it now, too). You can choose to go to the governor's office on the second floor to drop it off yourself, or leave it with us, and we will deliver it for you.

The committee hearing will start at 4pm in room 118 of the Capitol. If you are a licensed physician or advanced practice nurse, please be prepared to sign in as a "record or appearance". There are several bills up for consideration before this committee. We do not know the order in which bills will be called, but we hope we will be one of the first. Dr. Minkus will be testifying on behalf of the bill. We have also asked a high-risk OB from Southern Illinois to testify, but he is out of town and has not confirmed.

We are looking for a few people to volunteer as ushers to politely remind anyone whose child is fussing or even talking above a whisper to exit the hearing. We hate to be strict about it, but the hearing is considered a serious matter. Most of the legislators love children, but don't like it if they interrupt a hearing. Anyone who needs to settle a fussy baby or toddler should please respectfully do so out in the hallway. Nursing is your legal right in Illinois, and women openly nurse in the hallways, but, we do ask that you be as modest as possible during the hearing.

(BTW -- I suggest you bring nutritious snacks and bottled water, which can be eaten in the cafeteria and in the hallways but NOT in the House or Senate gallery or hearing room.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SUPER URGENT - Hearing for Home Birth Safety Act next Tuesday!

Greetings home birth supporters. We have an extremely urgent message.


@ We cannot overstate how important this is. @

The Home Birth Safety Act (HB 226), which will license Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) for home birth, is going to be heard in the Health Care Availability Access Committee next Tuesday, March, 3, 2009, at 4pm. This will either be the beginning of a great era or the final chapter in our decades long efforts to pass a CPM licensure law. The next time after this year to introduce a viable bill will be years from now, so we must make our best efforts now.

We have gone down every possible avenue over the past few years, to get as much support as possible, and even reached agreement with our state's nursing groups. We have built a strong coalition with many state groups including Illinois Public Health Association, Illinois Maternal Child Health Coalition, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, and Health and Disability Advocates, among others. We've even managed to get our bill placed in a better committee. So it all comes down to this: will we make it out the House Health Care Availability Access Committee, or will our bill die?

We have just received word from our people on the ground in Springfield that individual doctors have been traveling to Springfield to lobby against our bill. A lot of them. And they are making an impression. This is unprecedented in Illinois and even across the whole country that large numbers of individual doctors are actually going to the state capitol to lobby against a CPM licensure bill. So please PLEASE if you value home birth and want the option available for your future pregnancies or for your daughters in the years to come, then make it your number one priority to come to Springfield, Illinois next Tuesday, March 3, 2009!

We need EVERYONE to take a vacation day or call in sick, pull your kids out of school, and bring your sister, your best friend and your mother to Springfield that day to pack the hallways and the hearing room! We have to show Illinois legislators that the people of Illinois need access to licensed midwives!

Please forward this message to everyone you know and ask them to do the same!

See you there!

Monday, February 23, 2009

We have a new committee!

Earlier today, the Illinois General Assembly's website posted that our bill, HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act, has been assigned to a different committee, Healthcare Availability Access. This is a good sign, but we still have an uphill battle.

Please look over the list of the targeted legislators again to see if you or anyone you know lives in these districts. Make sure that you and your family and friends immediately contact their state representative to support HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act. Then let us know what you hear! You can contact Colette on facebook or via email at or Pat Colet at

The Healthcare AA committee usually meets the first session day of the week in the afternoon, so we will most likely call the bill NEXT TUESDAY, March 3, 2009. Assuming we (along with our sponsors and lobbyist) believe that we are ready, and soon as the General Assembly's website posts the hearing notice, we will pass on the final details of the hearing time.

Please pencil in the date and plan to attend with your QUIET children. Children are very welcome so long as they are quiet, but due to the legal nature of the proceedings, you must be prepared to exit the room immediately if your child starts to make any sound whatsoever. That said, we hope that you will be able to attend to show your support! We will post more details later.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Huge Increase in Health Groups Supporting Certified Professional Midwives

As reported by The Big Push for Midwives Campaign,  there has been a sudden increase in nationally prominent health organizations joining an already the burgeoning list of prominent health organizations which support licensing or acknowledge the safety of home birth with a CPM. (see a pdf of the Big Push's press release here.)

The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), a highly respected national nursing group, recently published an editorial blasting the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for their outdated and out of touch policies trying to restrict home birth and Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) licensure.
In the editorial published in thecurrent issue of the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, the official journal of AWHONN, Nancy K. Lowe, CNM writes, “I am very proud to be an American, but I am embarrassed that our country, founded on the ideals of individual liberty and freedom, can also support ‘authoritative’ initiatives such as these by the ACOG and AMA, initiatives that are founded on neither science nor an understanding of the physiologic and psychosocial needs of mothers and babies.” Lowe adds, "What is most risky about home birth in the United States is that for most women who desire it there is a scarcity of qualified providers of home birth services.”

The National Perinatal Association, a multi-disciplinary health advocacy group, issued two supportive Position Papers:
(1) "Choice of Birth Setting" (download the pdf here), which highlights a comprehensive Cochraine Database Review of peer-reviewed scientific studies, pointing out that the Cochrane Database concluded:
"... there was no strong evidence to favor planned hospital birth vs planned home birth for low-risk preg nant women.“ Planned hospital birth may even increase unnecessary interventions and complications without any benefit for low-risk women“

(2) "Position Statement on Midwifery" (download the pdf here), which explains the different types of midwives:
"The designation “midwife” is therefore accompanied by a qualifying term such a Certified Nurse- Midwife (CNM), Certified Midwife (CM) or Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) which shows the midwife has successfully passed a national certifying exam and is competent to practice."

Groups that have long supported the concept of home birth with a CPM include:
These national and international groups are joined by several Illinois groups including :
  • Illinois Public Heallth Association
  • Illinois AFL-CIO
  • Illinois Nurses Association
    Illinois Nurses Association 2008 Statement: "The INA has changed its position from oppose to neutral because they feel the current proposal adequately protects the public, including sound education and certification requirements, and does allow women to choose to have a licensed certified midwife to provide prenatal and childbirth services in their homes."
  • Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Illinois Maternal Child Health Coalition
  • Health Medicine Policy Research Group
  • Health Disability Advocates
  • Illinois Families for Midwifery
  • Chicago Women's Health Center
Seeing the groups line up, it is interesting to note the only groups opposing are the American Medical Asociation and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who are pouring their vast resources into supporting state medical groups in utilizing, not rational argument, but scare tacticts and political strong-arming in an attempt to tamp down grass-roots consumer movements whose time has come.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Consumer Reports Looks at American Childbirth!

In October 2008, the respected Consumer Reports, known for its unbiased and accurate reports that consumers can rely on, published at report, Maternity Care - High tech vs. high-touch, about childbirth services in the United States. It comes as no surprise to home birth advocates that hospital birth is fraught with peril, and midwives at home are very safe.

First, they give a good description of the advantages of a physiologically normal birth.

When it's time to bring a new baby into the world, there's a lot to be said for letting nature take the lead. The normal, hormone-driven changes in the body that naturally occur during delivery can optimize infant health and encourage the easy establishment and continuation of breastfeeding and mother-baby attachment. Childbirth without technical intervention can succeed in leading to a good outcome for mother and child, according to a new report.

Then they conclude:
The report found that, in the U.S., too many healthy women with low-risk pregnancies are being routinely subjected to high-tech or invasive interventions that should be reserved for higher-risk pregnancies ...In fact, the current style of maternity care is so procedure-intensive that 6 of the 15 most common hospital procedures used in the entire U.S. are related to childbirth. Although most childbearing women in this country are healthy and at low risk for childbirth complications, national surveys reveal that essentially all women who give birth in U.S. hospitals have high rates of use of complex interventions, with risks of adverse effects. (emphasis ours)

They also included a "True/False" Maternity Care Quiz that included the following:

An obstetrician will deliver better maternity care, overall, than a midwife or family doctor.
False. Studies show that the 8 percent to 9 percent of U.S. women who use midwives and the 6 to 7 percent who choose family physicians generally experienced just-as-good results as those who go to obstetricians. Those who used midwives also ended up with fewer technological interventions. For example, women who received midwifery care were less likely to experience induced labor, have their water broken for them, episiotomies, pain medications, intravenous fluids, and electronic fetal monitoring, and were more likely to give birth vaginally with no vacuum extraction or forceps, than similar women receiving medical care.

Epidural anesthesia is a low-risk way to make labor easier.
False. Many women welcome the pain relief, but might not be well-informed about the increased risk of its side-effects, including lack of mobility, sedation, fever, longer pushing, and serious perineal tears.

Epidural anesthesia presents risks to newborns.
True. Babies whose mothers received epidurals during labor are at risk for rapid heart rate, hyperbilirubinemia (the presence of an excess of bilirubin in the blood), need for antibiotics, and poorer performance on newborn assessment tests.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Targeted Action Alert

We have thirteen eight calendar days to gain enough votes to move our bill to license certified professional midwives out of committee and onto the House floor. That is not a lot of time, so we are targeting specific legislators. We need to concentrate our energy over the weekend to see who we can find in the seven districts listed below. Our goal is to get their phones and faxes ringing off the hook on Monday morning (or sooner) with our supporters! If you live in one of these districts, please do your best to visit Springfield next Wed - Fri or the following Tues - Fri.

That means now is the time to immediately contact everyone you know in one of the following districts who might do you the favor of placing a quick phone call. Ask them to call or fax a letter to their state representative to support HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act by next Tuesday in the district office (or Springfield Wed - Friday morning).Tell them you would like to know the exact details of what took place -- any feedback or reaction is helpful, no matter how inconsequential it might seem, it helps us refine our message. (We compile it all and analyze it and respond appropriately, changing week to week or even day to day.)

It only takes three minutes to place a call, and maybe 5-7 minutes to write and fax a letter. Here are some quick instructions of what to say in your call or faxed letter:

  • Include your name and home street address.
  • If you are a doctor, nurse, chiropractor, physical therapist or childbirth educator say so!
  • Mention that are a constituent (or that you live in the district).
  • Ask your state rep to vote YES on HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act.
  • If you are asked what your interest is, you can tell your own story.
  • If you did NOT have a home birth but still support this bill state so! (shows legislators the support among the general public as well)
  • It is okay to say something like your sister, friend or cousin had a home birth, and you are doing this to support her, or you want her to have access to licensed care.
  • If you are asked a technical question that you can't answer (or aren't sure what's best to say), it is perfectly okay to say you don't know. Just let us know, and we will follow up on the subject.
  • Please make a note of what happened and pass it along to the Coalition or Illinois Families for Midwifery
Karen May (D, 58th district)
North Shore suburbs, including: most of Glencoe, Northbrook, Deerfield, Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff.

Springfield Office:
255-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-0902
(217) 557-7214 FAX

Greg Harris (D, 13th district)
North side of Chicago, Uptown area. From Lake Michigan to Lincoln Ave., and from approximately Irving Park Rd. to Foster Ave.

Springfield Office:
258-W Stratton Office Bldg
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-3835
(217) 557-6470 FAX

Rosemary Mulligan, (R, 65th district)
Near Northwest suburbs including Maine, Elk Grove, Niles, and Norwood Park Townships, and portions of the municipalities of Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Niles, Mt. Prospect, Arlington Heights, Rosemont, Norridge, Harwood Heights, and Chicago. (District map at

Springfield Office:
217-N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8007
(217) 782-4533 FAX

William Burns, (D- 26th district)
Chicago. From the Gold Coast down through the East side of the Loop from the Lake Front as far West as approx. State St./King Dr., as far South as approximately 71st St.. Includes Miegs Field, Soldier Field, McCormick Place, Museum Campus, Grant Park, Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile. (Also think of anyone you know who owns a business in this district.)

Springfield Office:
284-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2023
(217) 782-8569- FAX

Esther Golar (D, 6th district)
South side of Chicago. From the Dan Ryan Expressway to a little bit west of Western Ave. And from 25th Pl. to approximately 65th St.

Springfield Office:
250 Stratton Office Bldg
Springfield, IL   62706
(217) 782-5971
(217) 558-6370 FAX

Michael J. Zalewski (D, 21st district)
Western suburbs and part of Southwest side of Chicago. Includes the South half of Berwyn, the West half of Stickney, SouthEast portions of Riverside and the South half of Brookfield, the SouthEast quarter of LaGrange Park and the far East sections of LaGrange, most of McCook and Summit, and the Southwest side of Chicago from approx. 71st St up to I-55 and as far East as Cicero Ave.

Springfield Office:
231-E Stratton Office Bldg
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5280
(217) 557-1934 FAX

Michael G. Connelly (R, 48th district)
Far Western Suburbs. South parts of Wheaton, East half of Naperville, West half of Lisle, Northern sections of Bolingbrook, and West half of Woodridge.

Springfield Office:
208-N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL   62706
(217) 782-8028

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Big day at the capitol!

From Sara Baum, who attended the Feb. 10 Mother of All Rallies:

It was really interesting and amazing to participate in this process and to realize that we as individual constituents can have a big influence on what information our legislators have and whether they support an effort or not. Our lobbyist said that legislators sometimes reconsider their position on a bill when they know that even one constituent is paying attention to the bill and cares about it and takes the time to go all the way to Springfield to say so.

I was nervous to talk to my legislator for some reason. One of my fellow mamas reminded me that HE works for ME, and that he needs to hear what I and other constituents care about, because that is what him representing us is all about. Sometimes it's easy to forget this simple fact. I enjoyed talking to Harry Osterman, and he was really nice! I think our representatives enjoyed seeing us there and knowing we cared about the work they are doing. And now that I've gone and talked to my legislator, I'm not afraid to do it again.

I have often felt that there is not much I can do to help support legislation that I care about, or that there is no connection between us and our government. But if we create a connection, there can be one. And creating it is easier than it seems.

It was great to be there with others who care about mothers and babies and birth options in our state and are working hard to change things for the better.

We had a terrific rally and lobby day! Thank you to everyone who traveled to Springfield to support certified professional midwives! Our theme was "got midwife?". We lobbied our state representatives, and we passed out m&ms and cookies to the Illinois House.

There were an estimated one hundred home birth supporters, packing the halls of the capitol including nearly twenty members of the Amish community.

View pictures here!

We began the day with a large crowd gathering in the cafeteria for a pep talk and marching orders from two of our fearless sponsors -- Rep. Julie Hamos and Rep. Paul Froehlich. After materials were distributed, our caravan of moms and dads with strollers, slings and babes in arms set out on the adventure of tracking down their reps and sharing their stories. Everyone was wearing black got midwife teeshirts and/or buttons.

Throughout the day we heard mostly good reports back from everyone! Our information table we well visited, because who can resist pictures of our gorgeous born at home children? We owe a very special thank you to Judy Cole for tirelessly managing the table and Jacque Shannon-McNulty for helping us distribute t-shirts!!!

In the afternoon reinforcements arrived as a second wave of supporters joined us! We met many people who wanted to buy our teeshirts, including a professional lobbyist whose wife had a birth with a midwife at West Suburban. (West Suburban is where the midwife who passed the free-standing birth center bill works, and all their midwives have been encouraging their patients to support our bill!!) Also in the afternoon, we were joined by Rep. Dan Burke.

There were a large number of health care professionals in attendance today, including several nurses, chiropractic physicians, nurse-midwifery students, doulas and certified professional midwife students.

At the end of the day, we heard a report from a very supportive senator that in his meeting with our new governor, he made sure they knew the cookies they were eating were from the midwives!!

Today we began to process all that we learned on Tuesday, while our sponsors continue to work on their end. In the next few days, we will have more details about how best to proceed from here, so stay tuned ...


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Teeshirt details

got midwife?

Make a statement! Be seen, and let the whole capitol know that we need midwives! Buy your got midwife? teeshirt on your way into the rally!

Teeshirt Details: We will be selling a limited number of black teeshirts that say "got midwife?" in white letters across the chest. They will be availabe on a first-come, first-served basis only (except for the two pre-orders that were placed when we made the original announcement last month). Sizes available range from Children's XS (2-4) through Adult XL (and we have one XXL). We are sorry; we cannot guarantee to have your size, but stop by and see what we have!

Hours: 10:30 am - 1 pm. We will try have someone there, even if shirts sell out, until 1 pm.

Cost: $12 each.

Location: The teeshirts will be for sale on the sidewalk down by the street, on Monroe St, on the North side of the capitol, near the parking meters. You can stop by there on your way into the main North entrance into the capitol building. (We are not allowed to sell anything on state property, which is why the teeshirt sales will be outside.)

Don't worry if teeshirts are sold out before you arrive, we will have free buttons for everyone attending! Everyone will have something to wear that matches.

Can't wait to see you all there!